Chris Cerf Unplugged: Charter Schools, Phil Murphy, NJEA, and Save Our Schools-NJ

In an interview in today’s Star-Ledger, Newark Superintendent and former New Jersey Commissioner of Education Chris Cerf discusses the threat of a charter school moratorium, his views on “boutique” charter schools in leafy suburbs, why NJEA leaders and Save Our Schools-NJ fight so vociferously against public charters yet give discriminatory magnet schools (and their own access to school choice) a pass, the impending governorship of Phil Murphy, and how Newark charters are incubating new ideas …

Can You Cough Up $20K a Year? Welcome To The Top New Jersey “Public” Schools!

  Tuition Rates—2015-2016 RESOLVED, that the Board of Education approve the revised tuition rates for the 2015-2016 school year as follows: Elementary Schools Pre-K Full-Day Program $13,000 Kindergarten Full-Day Program $16,953 Grades 1-5 $19,029 Grades 6-8 $17,691 Grades 9-12 $17,831 Special Education Autism $90,913 Learning and/or Language Disability $23,603 Cranbury Sending/Receiving Tuition Grades 9-12 $17,345 What you see here is a section of the Princeton Regional Public School Board’s April 2015 Minutes that set tuition rates …

Phil Murphy Perfects the Pivot

“Pivoting” is an essential political skill when faced with a question you don’t want to answer. While I am eager to hear a non-pivot on this question asked by West Orange residents at a neighborhood block party, one can’t help but admire Murphy’s graceful evasion, via NJ Spotlight. Does he believe charter schools and vouchers for parochial schools will help improve outcomes in low performing school districts?   Murphy said he would improve K-12 schools …

Lakewood’s Biggest Fan: Save Our Schools-NJ Supports the Tyranny of the Majority

Occasionally I check Save Our Schools-NJ’s Facebook page to keep tabs on the anti-choice/accountability crowd. Topping the newsfeed yesterday was an indignant post about the approval of five new charter school applications. Typical pablum, right? Charter schools cost money and so they are bad.  Charter schools don’t have to hire NJEA members (unless the teachers choose to unionize) and so they are bad. Charter schools threaten the traditional school monopoly because, among the best ones, …

Look What Happens When District and Charter Schools Collaborate

(This is a guest post by Charles Sahm, who is director of education policy at the Manhattan Institute, a think tank whose mission is to develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility. It was originally published in the Star-Ledger.) It’s often noted that the original vision for charter schools, championed by legendary teachers’ union leader Al Shanker and others, was that they’d be “laboratories of innovation” whose lessons could inform …

Just How Irrelevant is the NEA?

This irrelevant: on Tuesday, July 4th, at its annual Delegate Assembly, the National Education Association passed a resolution that would suck the heart out of the healthy charter school sector that currently serves 5% of American schoolchildren. Specifically, NEA leaders resolved that charters must be approved by local traditional school districts (ensuring that no charter ever be approved); that all charters adopt local districts’ pay scales and, presumably, tenure laws; that no charters be expanded, …

A Hope for the Heart of Phil Murphy

The big news story today, of course, is U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell’s failure to summon enough votes to bring to the floor a bill that would decimate the Affordable Care Act and throw 22 million Americans, mostly low-income, old, or disabled, off the insurance rolls. The New York Times Editorial Board, for example, writes that “the bill is a cruel hoax that would help the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the poorest.” And, as …

Charter Parent: With Adults, It’s All About Money; This Is Supposed To Be About Children

As you can see from the post below, I had an informative visit with Ms. Dreya Teel, her son Jared, and staff members from KIPP NJ’s Life Academy. That post was all about Jared, but towards the end of the day Ms. Teel, a long-time Newark resident and single mom of four boys, and Farida Mallah, Jared’s teacher, shared with me their thoughts about New Jersey charter school politics. Newark remains the epicenter of New …

Jared’s Got Something Special and KIPP’s ‘Pathways’ Is Helping Him Show It

Eight-year-old Jared Teel-Drayton hops into the room, hands flapping, eyes darting, smile alight. He’s been painting—his class went to the art room today—and his teacher, Farida Mallah, patiently combs through a plastic drawer for a clean tee-shirt, which he dons happily. It’s his favorite one, navy blue with the word “grit” stenciled in front, usually awarded as a prize. Jared’s got something special, and it’s not just a new tee-shirt. “Can you tuck it in?” …

What Does the New Camden Teacher Union President Think About Superintendent Rouhanifard? Hold Onto Your Hat!

Keith Benson, newly-elected President of the Camden Education Association, must be terrified. Over the last five years Camden public schoolchildren increased their graduation rate by 21 percent, up from 49 percent to 70 percent, and their academic growth has outpaced their peers in the rest of the state. Schools are safer. Families are, at last, hopeful about the city school system. And, after a revolving door of superintendents — 13 in the last 20 years …